Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photography Tips at your fingertips – Photo Buffet for iPhone / iPad Review

Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet

When I was at the Nik Summit in San Diego this past May I had the pleasure of getting to know Canon Explorer of Light and Photography legend Rick Sammon. At that time Rick had just released his new iPhone app called Rick Sammon’s 24/7 Photo Buffet and was excited for me to get a chance to check it out and review it. He also wanted me to do a podcast with him and here it is mid November and I’m just now getting around to writing this review and Rick still hasn’t had 5 minutes to spare for the podcast! Yes, we are some very busy guys!

Anyway, there’s tons of apps on the iPhone and quite honestly many of them suck. It also seems to be in vogue these days for every photographer on the planet to release their iPhone app which frequently ends up being nothing more than a tool for them to boast about their photography adventures that mere mortals never get a chance to take.

I liked Rick and wanted to check out his app, but I was a bit skeptical! I also was quite frank with Rick in saying that I wished some of his books had a bit more depth and less overlap with each other which got a good belly laugh out of him. However Rick convinced me that Photo Buffet was worth a look so when I found myself in long lines in airports or other annoying situations I would fire up his app.

Why this App Doesn’t Suck

Okay, I know what some of you are thinking – I’ve read Field Guide X and it sucked or I’ve got a iTunes library full of crappy photography apps, so why is this one any different?

I’m pleased to report that this one is different because it isn’t trying to be your Photography bible, but more like your visual photography field guide (a term frequently misused but very applicable in this case).

Photo Buffet is organized into five major categories:

Seeing – This section starts with an excellent intro (I wish all apps had something this good) and then goes into tips on “seeing” People, Composition, Framing the shot, and Backlighting. Each section has many topics with a easy to digest page of text and then a interactive photo or video to demonstrate the concept discussed. I found this section much more entertaining than the put me to sleep composition books I’ve tried to read in the past.

Making – Rick always likes to say don’t take a picture, make a picture. This is where Rick gets into the technical details of expressing your artistic intent using your camera. This section includes groups for Technology, Aperture, Shutter Speed, White Balance, Exposure, Flash, Filters, Close-Up Photography, and iPhone Photography.

Editing – This is where Rick gets into the tips of what to do once you’ve got that picture and you plan to edit it Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, so this section emphasizes the use of those tools. It includes too many topics to list, but it is safe to say that for the beginner you’ll find much to learn and enjoy in this section. Advanced users will find much of this content to be too basic, but I always read everything just in case there’s a tip or something I hadn’t run across before.

Tips – This has my favorite part of the app – the A to Z On-Location tips where you can get last second tips on how to shoot from a helicopter to underwater photography. This is where the beginner to intermediate photographer who is traveling with the family is going to find this app to be priceless as there’s tips for most scearios you’d encounter on vacation. He also covers HDR, Snow & Cold, Special Situations (i.e., sunsets, fireworks, etc…), file management, gear and a handy  homework group. Honestly this is the part of this app that is worth well beyond the $1.99 purchase price. This is my favorite section to pick up and read when I’m killing time.

Help – This is where you can get to all the movies quickly as well as searching the text of the book. You can also send feedback and learn more about who made this product.

Additional Features

Notes - One of the great new features of version 1.2 (free upgrade) is that you can now take notes with your content using the notes button shown above.

Before/After Photos – Much like I do on this blog, Rick offers before/after photos using a little button. Hover over the image below to see the before and mouse out to see the after.

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after


In the slim chance that the links in this article work, I might make a few pennies so this is one article that you can rest assured that I won’t get rich from. I am writing because I honestly believe this is a cool app that beginners should love and intermediates will enjoy (especially the Tips section). I’d consider myself advanced, but even I enjoy it so who knows – maybe it is for everyone.

It’s only $1.99, so it’s a no brainer iPhone app purchase. Click here for a microscopic chance of me getting like 3 cents for your purchase, otherwise don’t bother and just go use the App Store on your iPhone or iPad. :) While you are at the App Store also pick up my #1 favorite app - ApplicationGap Easy Release – it rocks and I don’t make a penny from your purchase.


Rick provided me with a free copy of this app and there’s a chance I might get a tiny commission if you purchase the app using the links in this article (it’s never worked in the past).

ALL screen shot content in this article is copyright Rick Sammon – ALL Rights Reserved. Do not link, save or otherwise re-use the images featured in this article.

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Dr. Dave said...


I'm the guy who developed Rick's app, and I just want to thank you for the detailed and thoughtful review. App Store reviews are often a bit sparse ("this app sucks", or "this app is great"), so it's wonderful to find a real photographer who takes the time to review an app in detail, as you did.

I'm going to start reading your blog - you're a pro.

Dr. Dave

Anonymous said...


You wrote:

"Anyway, there’s tons of apps on the iPhone ..."

Not trying to be annoying or a jerk, but it should be "there are tons". I see this error so often but, because it's so basic, I can't help but offer a reminder. No need to publish this comment.

I enjoy your blog.